Who started the civil rights movement?

Harry Belafonte receives an honorary Oscar

Commitment to the American civil rights movement is an important constant in Harry Belafonte's life. Now the 87-year-old entertainer has received a special award in Hollywood: the honorary Oscar. In his acceptance speech, Belafonte called on the Hollywood stars present to do more with their work for positive change. "Perhaps we as artists and visionaries can influence citizens all over the world so that they can see the better side of the human species," said Belafonte at the presentation of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in Los Angeles.

"I wish I could see the rest of this century to see what Hollywood is doing," said Belafonte at the awards ceremony. Hollywood could "maybe, just maybe" change civilization.

"A great artist"

Belafonte had a brilliant success in 1954 as G.I. Joe in Otto Preminger's film "Carmen Jones". When he and Martin Luther King Jr. began to fight for black civil rights in the 1950s and publicly protested against the apartheid regime in South Africa, it did not go down well in Hollywood at first. The US show industry ignored him. Nevertheless, he celebrated great success as an entertainer, also in Germany with the show "I sing what I see".

Harry Belafonte (left) Jean-Claude Carriere (center), actress Maureen O'Hara and director Hayao Miyazaki

In the late 1980s, Belafonte was appointed Good Will Ambassador for the UNICEF Children's Fund. Among other things, he was committed to improving medical care in Mozambique and supported children suffering from AIDS in South Africa and rejected boys and girls in Rwanda.

Actress Susan Sarandon recognized Belafonte as "the ultimate example of a great artist and lifelong social activist". The French screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière, the Irish-American star actress Maureen O'Hara and the Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki also received "Governors Awards".

The Oscar of Honor is a special award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and was launched in 1929. The prize honors, among other things, outstanding life's work and contributions to the further development of the film. The first winner was Charlie Chaplin. Since 2009, the award has been presented separately from the actual Oscar presentation.

The year before, US actress Angelina Jolie received the award for her commitment as a special envoy for the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

so / wl (dpa, Munzinger)